Friday, April 20, 2012

EUROPA LEAGUE: BITTERSWEET SENSATION FOR SPAINISH TEAMS


Sporting Lisbon spoilt the Spanish Europa League fiesta on Thursday, as they came from behind to score a 2-1 semifinal victory against Athletic Bilbao.

Emiliano Insua and Capel scored the goals for Sporting, while Jon Aurtenetxe scored for Athletic.

In the other semifinal Atletico Madrid beat Valencia 4-2 in an all-Spanish match. Falcao scored a brace, with Miranda and Adrian getting the others. Jonas and Ricardo Costa found the net for Valencia.
The 2010 winners Atletico dominated early on and deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute. Poor defending by Adil Rami allowed the persistent Arda Turan to get to the byline.

His cross ricocheted into the path of Falcao, who headed smartly into the bottom corner.
The complexion of the tie changed temporarily on the stroke of halftime as Valencia grabbed a vital away goal. Rami, who was looking to make amends for his earlier mistake flicked on a Ricardo Costa corner to Jonas who was lurking at the back post.

The Brazilian tapped in from close range, triggering wild celebrations on the Valencia bench and leaving Atletico stunned going in at the break.

However, Valencia's celebrations turned to utter dismay in 5 disastrous second half minutes shortly after the interval.

Miranda restored Madrid's lead with a well taken header, following a Diego cross four minutes after the restart and five minutes later Madrid added another, this time a superb solo effort from striker Adrian Lopez. The 24 year old dispossessed Mehmut Topal before racing through the Valencia defence and coolly finishing into the bottom corner.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt in the 78th with an incredible strike from just outside the box.
The goal moved the Colombian on level terms with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Schalke at the top of the scoring charts with 10 goals. Falcao could make history by becoming the first player ever to be the competitions top scorer for two consecutive seasons following his 17-goal haul during Porto's cup-winning campaign last season.

Valencia grabbed a late goal though as Ricardo Costa headed home from a corner in the fourth minute of second-half injury time.

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